Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Beat the Holiday Blues

With so many parties and festivities, the holiday season can by joyful and special, but also overwhelming and stressful.

Winter depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), affects many with feelings of sadness, loneliness and irritability at this time of year.

If you or someone you know seems to be experiencing extended sadness, fatigue, lack of energy or increased abuse of drugs or alcohol during the holidays, the Pasadena Public Health Department urges you to call a medical or mental health provider right away.

There are plenty of local resources, including Pasadena Healthcare Link, a 24/7 information line at (626) 744-7445 that can help you find the assistance you need.

Our Recovery Center, an outpatient drug prevention and treatment program, is also available at (626) 744-6001.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Breathe a Little Easier

Well on its way to becoming a green city, Pasadena is clearing the air!

Fair warning to smokers who light up along the parade route on New Year's Day: You'll be asked by a police officer to either put it out or go a block or so away from the route to enjoy your cigarette, pipe or cigar. The fine for ignoring the officer: $100 for the first violation (it goes up from there).

Due to newly strengthened tobacco control laws put in place in October by the Pasadena City Council, smokers throughout the community can no longer light up at outdoor shopping malls, outdoor patios at bars and restaurants, outdoor public gatherings like parades and festivals, or outdoor areas of private smokers’ lounges and tobacco shops.

Smoking is also prohibited in or within 20 feet of an outdoor waiting line, such as a bank ATM or movie theater ticket booth, or within 20 feet of a doorway or window of a building where smoking is prohibited.

Pasadena Public Health Department is spreading the word about the new law with public education and new signage.

Enforcement is mostly based on complaints received. To report a violation, or for more information, call 744-6014.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No, Really -- They're Free!

We have received many expressions of thanks from Pasadena residents for the free energy-saving light bulbs mailed to every household last summer.

Others have asked what gives with the coupon that was enclosed: "$75 in free bulbs? There must be a catch..."

But I happily repeat: The additional compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are absolutely free. No tax, no shipping, no handling.

We've done the math, and this community will come out way ahead in energy cost savings and carbon emission reductions if every household switches to CFLs.

If you're a residential customer of Pasadena Water and Power, you have until the end of January to take advantage of the free CFL offer. Go here to order online or call (866) 807-1544.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Award-winning Affordable Housing

The paint is dry, fixtures are in and construction is complete at Fair Oaks Court, which recently received national honors as the affordable housing project of the year!

Located in the heart of northwest Pasadena, the spacious complex spans almost two acres and features a blend of 31 new condominiums and nine historic, single-family homes that were recently restored. All buildings embrace the Craftsman architectural tradition.

Most of the units have been purchased by first-time, income-eligible buyers; others have been purchased by workforce-income and the remainder have been sold at market rate.

Two one-bedroom, one-bathroom units, built in 1919 and completely rehabilitated, are currently for sale to income-eligible buyers.

In addition to providing beautiful and affordable homes, the project has spruced up the neighborhood, put existing resources to good use and preserved historic structures in the Villa-Parke area.

Fair Oaks Court was developed by Heritage Housing Partners, a local, non-profit affordable housing developer, in partnership with the Pasadena Housing Department and with assistance from Pasadena Water and Power, Clearinghouse CDFI, Washington Mutual and Los Angeles County.

The complex is located on North Fair Oaks Avenue at Peoria Street, 171 Carlton Ave. and 504 Cypress Ave.

To learn more City of Pasadena affordable homeownership programs, visit here or call 744-8300.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pasadena's Finest to the Rescue

At 11 a.m. on Sunday, Pasadena firefighters responded to the scene of an accident at Lake and Orange Grove where a man was trapped under an SUV that had gone up over the curb at a bus stop.

The man, who had been waiting at the bus bench when the accident happened, and the driver, a pregnant woman, were treated at the scene and then transported to the hospital.

Never a dull moment for Pasadena firefighters and police officers! Be sure to thank them whenever you see them out and about.

Friday, December 12, 2008


For as long as I can remember, we in the City Manager's Department have had a holiday party every year -- sometimes a luncheon with all the trimmings, sometimes an evening gift exchange, etc.

This year we decided to help a low-income Pasadena family: A mom and dad with six children and one on the way. Staff in the City Clerk's Office joined in the plan.

We got a list of each family member's wants, needs and desires, and then we went shopping (with our own personal money).

We wrapped enough presents to make this a merry Christmas for a family that otherwise would have very little on December 25.
It was a great feeling!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Season Has Officially Begun

Don't listen to the department stores that put out their Christmas trees and other holiday decorations before Halloween every year.

The season really, truly begins with the tree-lighting ceremony at Pasadena City Hall!

The festivities took place tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the grand entrance, where more than 100 people had gathered.

The event kicked off with the McKinley After-school Chorus under the direction of Robin Turrentine. They were just great!

Mayor Bill Bogaard is out of town, so Vice Mayor Steve Haderlein did the honors. He flipped the switch that turned the tree from plain...

...to brightly lit.
Hundreds and hundreds of LED lights were donated by Pasadena Water and Power. They use only 10% of the energy that incandescent tree lights use, and they don't put out any heat whatsoever.

A lot of people brought unwrapped gifts to put in the Pasadena Fire Department's Spark of Love boxes for needy children and teens.

Drive by some night when you're in the neighborhood. The tree, in all its glory, is spectacular!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

There's Still Time to Throw Your Hat in the Ring!

On March 10 voters will choose representatives for City Council Districts 3, 5 and 7, and Board of Education Seats 1, 3, 5 and 7.

To run for one of the council districts, you must be 18 or older, and registered to vote in the specific district you're interested in.

To run for one of the school board seats, you must be 18 or older and registered to vote anywhere within the Pasadena Unified School District boundaries.

Complete and file nominating papers by Dec. 12 at the City Clerk's Office, Room S228 at Pasadena City Hall.

Visit here or call (626) 744-4124 for more information.

Monday, November 24, 2008

City/PUSD Partnerships Online

The City of Pasadena and Pasadena Unified School District are working together in ways that have been unprecedented...

...such as the city's Safe Schools Team that provides policing services to all PUSD schools in Pasadena...

...after-school programs that are provided at parks, schools and other facilities throughout the community...
...and much more.

The relationship with department directors at the city and their counterparts at PUSD have been strengthened over the past couple of years, which has led to discussions about shared issues and services such as transportation, facilities, fields and security.

The City Council and Board of Education have met jointly several times over the past couple of years to set priorities and policies, and the city manager, superintendent of schools and employees from the city and PUSD are carrying out that vision.

And now there is a joint website that explains many of these partnerships. Click here to learn more!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When City Hall was a Hole in the Ground (Continued)

Back by popular demand, here are a few more of the historic photos from the mid-1920s when our beloved Pasadena City Hall was under construction.

Before the digging began:

They're off and running:

All Saints Church peeking over the palms:

Note all the houses that were in the neighborhood at the time:

The main tower under construction:

Inside the tower under construction:

Until next time...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Girl Scouts and Firefighters

Pasadena Girl Scout Troop 4051 of the Mt. Wilson Vista Council visited City Hall today. I introduced them to some of Pasadena's finest, who talked to them about safety and what's involved in firefighting.

Here are firefighters Jerry Kenoly (left) and Amo Avakian holding the girls' attention.

Each of the girls got to try on the heavy protective clothing that firefighters wear.

Before we left the firefighters, each of the girls got a stick-on firefighter badge.

What a good-lookin' group!

Then we headed up the stairs for a quick tour of City Hall and a look at some of the architectural features of the building's exterior that symbolize strength, abundance and water.

I love my job. I work very hard in my office and in the community every day, and the tours with children make it all worth it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We Did It!

From Vromans Bookstore to PCC, thousands in Pasadena participated in the Great Southern California ShakeOut this morning.

For my part, I was among the city staff who work in our Emergency Operations Center. We were there by 9 a.m. when the three-hour drill started this morning.

After a briefing from Fire Chief Dennis Downs and other Pasadena Fire Department officials......we went to work.

The EOC is divided into various work units, including Operations, Finance, Planning and Logistics

Staff in the Logistics Section, for example, arranges for facilities, services, resources and other support.
I'm part of the Policy Group, which advises and assists in making strategic policy decisions after an emergency or disaster.

I also oversee the PIO team, which is responsible for communicating with media and the community. (Many thanks to my team today: Joy Guihama from the Public Health Department, Catherine Hany from the Library, Ronnie Nanning from the Police Department, Erica Rolufs from Pasadena Water and Power, and Mark Yamarone from the Transportation Department.)

I don't have any photos from precisely 10 a.m. on the dot when everybody dropped, covered and held on for 60 seconds.

Ordinarily our earthquake drills are very detail-specific, right down to deciding how many backhoes to request and the triage priority for first responders.

This morning we didn't get into such minutia and instead focused on big picture and strategy due to the nature of the scenario.

It was a worthy exercise and we're better trained as a result.

Remember, if you haven't updated your emergency plan and kit yet, now's the time to do it!

It's November 13: Do You Know What to Do?


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Help Plant a Tree

Can you help plant some trees in Bungalow Heaven this Saturday? Meet in front of McDonald Park, Mountain Street at Catalina Avenue, at 8:30 a.m.

You'll work with staff from the Parks and Natural Resources Division of the Public Works Department, who will appreciate assistance in digging holes, taking trees out of their temporary containers, planting them in the ground, doing basic cleanup, etc.

Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe shoes. If you have gloves and a shovel, bring them along, although they're not required.

Call (626) 744-4321 no later than Friday at 5 p.m. to let them know if you can help.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Earthquakes 101: Myth vs. Fact

As we prepare for the Great Southern California ShakeOut on Nov. 13, there are a lot of questions out there, including in comments on my previous blog posting about earthquake safety.

Let me debunk some myths for you. Actually, I'm not the debunker; that has been done by seismology, geology and engineering experts over the past several years.

MYTH: During an earthquake, get in a doorway.
FACT: There used to be a popular old photo of a collapsed adobe home with the doorframe as the only part left standing. This led to a belief that a doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake. That's only true if you happen to live in an old, unreinforced adobe building! In all other buildings, a doorway is usually no stronger than any other part of the structure, and open doors will usually swing wildly during earthquakes. You're safer under a table or desk.

MYTH: The "Triangle of Life" is the safest position to assume during an earthquake.
FACT: This controversial position has been proven to be unsafe during an earthquake. It is based on the assumptions that your building will completely collapse and that there will be a specific pocket of safety in a specific location. Don’t believe it! The Drop, Cover and Hold On method has been proven time and time again to be the best technique for survival. One of the examples given by the perpetrator of the Triangle of Life myth is a school building in Mexico City that completely collapsed during a major earthquake in 1985: “Every child was under their desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones.” Don’t believe it! The fact is that school was not in session that day so there were no children present...

...and a photograph of the school taken after the earthquake made one thing abundantly clear: All of the desks were still in place! If the children had been in school that day and if they had taken the Triangle of Life position, they could have been killed by falling debris. However, if school had been in session that day and they had gone under their desks, they would have survived.

MYTH: During a major earthquake, the earth can open up and swallow cars, towns and people.
FACT: That's a popular literary device used in novels and movies, but the fact is that the ground moves across a fault during an earthquake, not away from it. If the fault could open, there would be no earthquake.

MYTH: An earthquake rupture follows train tracks.
FACT: Train tracks are located on top of the earth's surface and faults are located below the earth's surface. When faults are rupturing, they don't care where the train tracks are.

MYTH: There's such a thing as earthquake weather.
FACT: Weather is above the surface of the earth and earthquakes begin far below. There is no correlation between the two.

MYTH: Major earthquakes happen early in the morning.
FACT: Some major earthquakes, like Northridge, have happened in the early a.m., but that's certainly not true of all major quakes. For example, the 1992 Joshua Tree earthquake happened at 9:50 p.m. and the 2003 San Simeon quake was at 11:15 a.m. The factors that vary between the time of day, the month, or year do not affect the forces in the earth that cause earthquakes.

MYTH: There will be mass panic during the next "big one."
FACT: Not if we're all prepared!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Drop, Cover and Hold On!

Will you be ready for the Great Southern California Shakeout on Nov. 13?

We want you to be part of it, and that means learning how to protect yourself properly during the next "Big One."

Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey has led an alliance of scientists, emergency managers, engineers, government officials and others to study the likely consequences of a potential magnitude 7.8 earthquake in great detail. The result is the ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario.

The Great Southern California ShakeOut is one opportunity to practice your earthquake survival skills. These kinds of drills train us to act quickly – to Drop, Cover and Hold On immediately to minimize injury.

Here's a personal invitation from Dr. Lucy:

The Pasadena Fire Department continually spreads the word to Pasadena residents, neighborhoods, schools, the faith community, businesses and non-profit organizations throughout the community, and emergency crews review preparedness plans to make sure they’re as complete as possible.

Here are the steps you should take whenever you train for an earthquake:

1. Drop to the ground, take Cover under a sturdy table or desk, and Hold On to it as if a magnitude 7.8 earthquake were happening. Stay down for at least 60 seconds. Practice now so you can protect yourself immediately during a real earthquake.

(Why should you Drop? Because in a major earthquake, if you don't drop to the floor on your own, the force of the energy will knock you off your feet.

Why should you Cover? Because objects in your home or office will probably be flying all over the place.

Why should you Hold On? Because the table or desk you're under will probably begin sliding, and you'll need to slide with it.)

2. While still under the table or desk, look around and imagine what would happen in a major earthquake when shaking may last for one to two minutes. What would fall on you or others? What would be damaged? What would life be like in the immediate moments after? What should you do before the actual earthquake happens to reduce losses and recover quickly? You can't know unless you plan ahead!

3. Practice what you will do after the shaking stops.

4. Complete your disaster plan and emergency preparedness kit as soon as possible.

For vital information and to sign up for Pasadena Emergency Response Team (PERT) training, visit www.cityofpasadena.net/disaster.

Also, please note:

A local newspaper as well as several email chains have described a Triangle of Life position to be taken during major earthquakes, under the assumption that most Americans will have their homes and workplaces collapse around them.

Don’t believe it! The fact is that there is absolutely no scientific research to suggest that the Triangle of Life position works, and agencies such as the American Red Cross, U.S. Geological Survey and Governor's Office of Emergency Services have gone on record as disputing this viral rumor.

However, it has been proven time and time again, during documented scientific research, that the Drop, Cover and Hold On technique is the best method for survival in the U.S.

Here's a little video the Leadership Pasadena class of 2007 made.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

For the second year in a row, City of Pasadena departments, divisions and sites were invited to compete in a Halloween lobby-decorating contest.

The judges (including yours truly) went at noontime to the various lobbies. It was a real hoot!

And the winner is: The Environmental Health Division of the Public Health Department.

One of that division's responsibilities is restaurant inspections, so the employees transformed their lobby into a restaurant called Hell's Kitchen...

...with ghoulish waitresses in blood-stained aprons (one was named Salma Nella)...

...and code violations that would make even the most seasoned restaurant inspector run for cover!

Patrons could choose a cute little fishie right out of the tank!

The restaurant inspection report for Hell’s Kitchen:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Drive-through Flu Shots

Yep, that's me in the photo.

City of Pasadena employees work with the public every day, so it's important for us to get annual vaccinations to prevent us from contracting and/or spreading the flu to constituents and each other.

In the past, I always went up to Pasadena Public Health Department for my annual vaccination. This year, for the first time, they conducted a drive-through clinic at the City Yards for hundreds of employees.

We came through in personal cars..

...city-owned vehicles...


...and some parked on Mountain Street and walked through.

Even a couple of Pasadena ARTS buses were deployed to transport groups of employees from City Hall to the Yards.

For most of us, it was a simple matter of driving through, showing our official city ID, filling out a short form and getting the shot, all without having to get out of our vehicles.

Influenza strikes one in five people, causes 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths annually in the U.S. Are you at risk? You are if you're among any of these groups:

* pregnant women
* children from 6 months to 19 years old
* adults 50 and older
* anyone with a chronic medical condition
* anyone who lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
* anyone who lives with or cares for someone at high risk for flu complications.

Call your health care provider to arrange for the vaccination, or plan on attending one of these clinics in November when Pasadena Public Health Department will offer low-cost vaccinations to the public.

Wednesday, Nov. 5
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Pasadena Senior Center
85 E. Holly St.

Wednesday, Nov. 12
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Villa-Parke Community Center
363 E. Villa St.

Wednesday, Nov. 19
10 a.m. to 2 p. m.
Jackie Robinson Center
1020 N. Fair Oaks Ave.

Many thanks to Joy Guihama of Pasadena Public Health Department for the photos.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Need a Job?

If you or someone you know is looking for work, the City of Pasadena always has openings in a number of areas.

You can apply online or come to the Human Resources Department at Pasadena City Hall, 100 N. Garfield Ave., Room S135. The website is updated a couple of times a month.

Here's a partial list of current openings:

Business Tax Inspector, Finance Department -- Apply by Nov. 6

MASH Program Coordinator, Planning and Development Department -- Apply by Nov. 6

Electrical Craft Helper, Pasadena Water and Power -- Apply by Nov. 13

Project Manager for Capital Improvements, Pasadena Water and Power -- Apply by Nov. 13

Environmental Health Division Manager, Public Health Department -- Apply by Nov. 20

Utilities Accountant, Finance Department -- Apply by Nov. 20

There are about 2,300 City of Pasadena positions. While turnover isn't exactly constant, people do retire or move on, so go back to the website from time to time and check it out!